Zelos Abyss 2 Turbine Review
This is a review of the Zelos Abyss 2 Turbine, the Singapore based company's latest deep diver. This watch was loaned to me for review by Zelos. It must be noted that my watch sweet spot is 40mm diameter, 47mm lug to lug and 12mm thick, so adopting the Abyss 2 Turbine for a while felt like I was inviting a St Bernard into a home that is used to a labradour retriever. Or perhaps better yet trading a small harbour tug for a deep sea salvage tug. I cracked a smile and laughed out loud (a rarity for me) when I opened the package and laid eyes on the Abyss 2 for the first time . It just looked so big and serious but with a dose of nautical character and charm. So grab your dry suit, diving helmet, kraken repellent and let's dive in!
From the Zelos Website:
43mm Diameter Case in CUSN8 Bronze.
51.5mm lug to lug length makes it extremely wearable. 19mm thickness for the water resistance
Brushed case with polished edges and Bronze crowns
Sellita SW260 Swiss Movement
7mm thick Sapphire crystal: scratched only by diamond. Double domed in shape and inner coated with anti reflective coating.
Water Resistance of 3000m
External divers bezel: 120 click, unidirectional. Lumed triangle and full lumed markers
Sub second hand with turbine indicator
Engraved logo as well on crown, buckle
Multi Level Dial with circular brushed inner dial
C3/BGW9 Superluminova on hands and markers
1 Year international warranty
My measurements - not the best calipers so there could be some variance
Case Diameter – 44mm
Bezel Diameter – 44mm
Crystal Diameter – 31mm
Lug to Lug Length – 52mm (lower corners – 47mm)
Lug Width – 22mm
Total Height Incl. Crystal – 20.5mm
Height w/o Crystal – 17mm
Weight – 190 grams with rubber strap
Marketing Material From Zelos
The Abyss. The thickest and deepest diving watch made by Zelos. 3000m of water resistance provided by a CUSN8 bronze case and a huge domed crystal. The marine bronze case starts out a shiny rose gold color and ages along with your experiences.
The upgraded and reimagained Abyss 2 offers blazing lume, with deeply engraved hour indices and multi layer to provide the maximum fill of Swiss Superluminova C3 and BGW9 luminous paint. The automatic movement has been upgraded to a Sellita SW200 or SW260 for the Turbine model. This Turbine rotates as a seconds hand as it is mesmerising to watch.
Rubber, Canvas and Leather Strap
Steel Warranty Card
As this is a loaner for review I didn’t order it directly from Zelos, but in my past dealings with Zelos owner Elshan the ordering and delivery were easy and quick with exceptional customer service backing it up if needed. I would rate Zelos and Elshan as one of the more responsive and responsible micros out right now. Customer service goes a long way with me when deciding where to cast my watch dollars.
There are several variants of the Abyss 2 available for purchase right now. There is the single crown version with the small seconds turbine as in this review available in blue and black dials and a dual crown (internal bezel) version available in black, blue, green and meteorite dials.
At the time of writing this review (Jan 14 2018) the price is $949 USD.
Arrival and Unboxing
The watch arrived quickly but in minimal packaging that wont be representative of the production pieces you may order. As such I cant comment on what to expect with the finished product.
Lets be honest this watch has a lot of case. It is made fromCUSN8 bronze which is a traditional marine bronze. Bronze has become more common and accepted among watch collectors and enthusiasts from the big Swiss brands right down to the affordable micros and a lot of stops in between. It brings a warm tone, corrosion resistance, strength and the intrigue of a developing patina. CUSN8 bronze has a soft warm tone with hints of rose gold in there, however depending on use and enviroment it will patina to a darker brown over time.
The case finishing on the Abyss 2 is very good. The brushing seems even and well weighted and the polishing clean and well defined. As the watch I reviewed wasn’t factory fresh it had some patina on it and as such it was hard to tell how bright the polished chamfer on the case would be when new but it looks very nice as is. That polished chamfer runs the length of the case and skirts under the bezel helping to visually soften and break up the large expanse of brushed bronze. The edges are well defined without being sharp.
The case is tall. No doubt about that. I measured it at just over 20mm all in with the crystal. However, the height is well distributed between the case back, mid case, bezel and domed crystal. The overall proportions work well together whether at this size or if it was scaled down. The thickness is clearly a product of achieving the 3000m water resistance. I will touch later on how the watch wore with this height.
The 9 oclock side of the case has the automatic Helium release valve. Now let's be honest, there are very few of us who have any need (or understanding!) of this clever gizmo, as it used by saturation divers to prevent the watch crystal exploding off. Normally I roll my eyes as another 200m watch appears that has one, but in this case, we have a serious 3000m watch and it feels right at home on a piece of over engineered kit. Aesthetically I like it too, as it breaks up the 3 o'clock side of the case and provides a bit of interest in a large expanse of bronze. I don’t mind that it is stainless steel because that’s what it's made of to do its job and if it was PVD coated in some awful rose gold colour it wouldn’t be an improvement.
The case has nice curved down lugs that have what I call a transom shape, reminiscent of a fine ship's stern. This shape of lugs allows a longer lugged watch to wear nicely on a variety of wrist sizes. The lugs are relatively short for the overall size which I appreciate and the placement of the spring bar holes make straps wear without out a gap between the case.
The case back has a picture of a submarine navigating an abyssal trench with simple information engraved around the edge. It is nicely done and suits the character of the Abyss 2. The case back is stainless steel which is common with bronze watches as it is hypoallergenic against the skin. It is relatively thin to aid in wearability.
I think Zelos does a great job at designing practical and comfortably wearable cases that are unique without being outlandish. Very well done on the case on the Abyss 2.
The bezel on the Abyss 2 is machined out of a solid piece of bronze, there is no insert. It gives the watch a clean strong look and feels much more robust than if it housed an insert that could potentially come loose. The top of the bezel is radially brushed and the sides are polished. The polished sides help to break up the bulk of the brushed case and tie in nicely with the polished bevel on the case drawing the two components together. The top of the bezel is flat across and engraved and filled with lume. The engraving is very clean and the lume sits flush with the surface. I really like the look of the bezel on the watch. The bezel grip is OK. The spacing and design is aesthetically good and allows your fingers to grab hold, I just wish the edges were sharper. However, I know some people don’t like sharp bezels and I can see on a watch this size some people may have complained if the bezel teeth were more aggressive. It is the one thing about the watch I would probably personally change. With that said the bezel action is very good. Nice and tight with positive clicks. I didn’t find it hard to turn with dry or wet hands, I just wish again for a little more grip to help, especially with the muscular tool nature of the watch. The alignment on my example was smidge off, I am stickler for bezel alignment though perhaps more than others. I didn’t really notice it in daily wear.
The Abyss 2 boasts a massive 7mm thick double domed scratch resistant sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating. I like the amount of dome in the crystal, again it feels proportionate to the case size and design. This big thick crystal is clearly also part of achieving the 3000m WR. I really like it, it is nice and clear but with that much dome you will of course grab some reflections. The double dome allows for lower viewing angles than a single domed crystal. However with how thick this crystal is you will lose the dial sooner than some other double domed crystals I have seen. I don’t mind, in fact I like when you get some funky low angle reflections and distortions.
I received the blue dial variant of the Abyss 2 Turbine. Starting with the colour of the dial it is a medium blue that has hints of silver in it. The dial has a radial brushed sunray finish. It’s a nice look, bringing life to the dial and allowing the hue and tone of the blue to move both lighter and darker depending on the lighting. I think it is a nice blue that works well with the colour palette of the bronze case. I also find radially brushed dials to look less busy than other more traditional linear sunburst finishes that radiate out in spokes from the centre of the dial.
The blue brushed finish carries on to the chapter ring where the minutes are printed. That extension of the colour is very nice and creates excellent depth to the dial. The minute marks are printed in a bronze colour. The bronze printing does not have strong contrast with the blue. This results in the minute marks not being very legible. This may be a pro or con to you. I personally fell somewhere in the middle. I liked that it opened up the dial and made it feel less cluttered. On the other hand when I was looking for a specific time such as when setting the watch it sometimes took some squinting and angling of the watch to read the minute marks.
Between the central dial and chapter ring is a white ring or moat of BGW9 lume. I like how the white ring breaks up and focuses the dial and of course it adds a nice feature for nighttime viewing.
The hour indices are tall applied trapezoidal markers with a polished bronze finish. The colour matches the case well and brings some life and sparkle to the dial. The indices are filled with C3 lume cleanly and evenly and the lume appear to sit nicely flush with the indice tops. This shows that effort has gone to producing nice hollow indices instead of lumping the lume on top. The added benefit is stronger lume. I like the clean simplicity of the indices and they are highly legible in all lighting conditions and it is very easy to read the time at a glance.
There is a white date window at 3 oclock. I applaud Zelos for going with a black on white date window. I know they could have matched the colour if they so choose, however the white keeps the dial balanced as there is no applied indice at 3. I am a fan of colour matched date wheels when the marker falls between indices or if there is a small marker there already.
Ah, yes, what about the propeller turbine? Clearly prominent on the dial is ship's propeller inspired turbine and sub dial. The propeller is coupled to the small seconds counter of the Sellita Sw260 movement. The propeller therefore completes one rotation every minute. The propeller is a highly polished bronze colour. It catches the light beautifully as it gracefully rotates. It may be hard to detect in the pictures but the tip of one blade has a black coating, this allows you to track the seconds. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it before it arrived but I really like it. It is different and creates visual interest to the dial. Aesthetically it is well balanced to the circular applied Zelos logo at 12. Watching the prop slowly turn is quite mesmerizing, it forces you to slow down and relax. I enjoyed that. What you may miss is the quick and easy ability to track seconds. I found it easy to hack and set the movement using the black tipped blade. If you frequently time things under 1 minute you may find it frustrating or difficult. I realized I only have one regular activity that requires that daily and I didn’t mind the challenge of tracking the prop blade. With the small seconds dial being obscured by the hour and minute hands occasionally, frequent sub-minute timing folks should take that into account. Yes yes, I know, put down the ISO rule book you are about to throw at me. Without a lumed legible seconds hand, I suppose this isnt a dive watch by that standard...this is where I think some of the fun comes in with the watch, because just as with the HEV this one probably isnt going with most of us down the Marianas Trench any time soon. All in all, I enjoyed the feature and I am glad it's there, it makes it unique and fun. If it's not your cup of tea, there is still the dual crown version of the Abyss 2 with a standard three hand arrangement.
The dial has a great sense of depth and interest without being too busy, I find it easy and enjoyable to stare at for periods of time.
The hands are nice and bold in the now familiar Zelos style. I like the framed and lumed Zelos hands. They are strong and legible and the outer frames add some depth and interest. They are a polished bronze colour and catch the light well for easy legibility. They are filled nicely with C3 lume, being a minty white in daylight and a bright green in the dark. The second hand duties as mentioned are undertaken by the prop in the sub dial.
The lume is nice and strong on the Abyss 2.
The hands, indices and bezel are all Superluminova C3 which is the brightest of the superluminova colours. C3 has a minty white daylight colour and will glow bright green in the dark. The lume on the Abyss 2 charges quickly to a nice strong glow. There will be an initial blaze that is quite bright before gently fading over time to a mellow glow that was easily legible 12 hours later with dark adjusted eyes. There also is a ring of BGW9 lume which glows a dimmer blue (this is normal) in the dial which isnt quite as bright but adds some fun and interest without detracting from the legibility. A nice design touch. All the elements are well balanced in intensity, however I wonder if the hands could be a bit brighter, but that may just be that the indices are so deeply filled by comparison.
The crown is lumed as well which is a bit of a new fad. I am pretty neutral on it myself but it should be noted that it is nicely applied C3 and glows well if you need to hunt for a crown in the dark.
Below are some comparison shots with other watches that I have (Halios Seaforth, Magrette Regatarre, Ventus Mori, Omega SMP 2264) with C3 lume taken over a period of time to compare how they dim. You can see the Abyss 2 does very well.
The crown on the Abyss 2 is a screw down crown made of bronze. And my goodness, it is fantastic. I never knew a crown could almost be my favourite part of a watch, but this one is honestly that good. No doubt this is another component of the watch that had to be done extremely well to produce the 3000m WR. It is big and bold yet still proportional to the case. It has excellent grip and has the Zelos "Z" logo engraved and lume filled on the end. It screws in and out extremely well, very smooth and positive, I never felt getting it to thread was a challenge. It takes 4 full 360 degree turns to thread it in. Once out handwinding and adjusting the movement are a pleasure, with no stem wobble and positive positions, all aided by the great grip and size.
3000m places the Abyss 2 squarely in what is now considered the deep diver category. This watch should easily exceed any needs and demands one would encounter in the water. I dare say even if it was exposed to the dynamic pressure (!)of being strapped to the tentacle of a madly thrashing giant squid battling a sperm whale in the inky depths of the sea it would survive.
I personally like to always have a 200-300m rated watch on for peace of mind as I have a lot of exposure to water in my daily life. That rating alone should handle anything the average person would encounter. It is kind of fun and reassuring though knowing how over engineered and over the top this watch is. I think I would almost have a 200m watch or a 300m watch and just skip over the 500m plus category as a middle ground.
The WR clearly drives the case design in this watch which results in it feeling coherent. For example, if this same watch had less than 200m WR I would find it quite ridiculous and just big for the sake of being big. With the Abyss 2 the size and style has a sense of purpose.
Nestled deep within the case of the Abyss 2 beats a Sellita SW260-1. The Sw260 is based on the Sellita Sw 200 movement. The SW200 is very closely related to the more famous ETA 2824-2. For more reading on this check out this link to an article by Christopher Ward who use the Sw200 and 2824 interchangeably. (https://ca.christopherward.com/blog/the-eta-v-sellita-story/)
The Sw260-1 is a good quality swiss movement with 31 jewels, a smooth beat rate of 28,800 bph and a 38 hour power reserve. The key feature of the movement is of course that is a "small-seconds" movement utilizing the sub dial at 6 that is cleverly coupled to the turbine propeller. The turbine turns smoothly as you would expect a 28,8000 bph second hand to do. Zelos is using the "standard" grade SW260-1 that is adjusted in 2 positions and has a rate of +/- 12 seconds per day. My sample watch fell within those specs and more importantly was very consistent which means I am sure it could be regulated closely if desired. The handwinding is very smooth with just enough feedback to let you know that it is winding. This is my first hands on experience with a sellita movement. It seems many reputable brands use Sellita movements as an alternative to ETA. It is nice to see Zelos branching out and offering some more interesting movements, especially as the Seiko NH35A has been creeping into higher price points for many brands. Some of us may have preferences and bias when it comes to movements, I can appreciate the qualities of whatever is inside the watches I wear as long as it has a reliable overall reputation and history. The trade off of course is there is a cost premium that comes with a Swiss movement like this and that no doubt contributes to the Abyss 2's price tag that hovers just under $1,000 USD.
The Abyss 2 will come with a rubber strap, canvas strap and a horween leather strap. My example came just with the Zelos rubber strap. The strap is a 22mm width with no taper. The isofrane-inspired ladder style holes lend an aggressive sporty aesthetic to the strap and watch that screams "diver. There are some nice details such as a small ridge on the edges, a custom "Z" keeper and angled holes in the ladder section. The strap is comfortable to wear all day long and was a nice length for my 6.75-7" wrist on its own or over a wetsuit (4mm sleeve). The strap measures 78/130mm and 4mm thick tapering to 3mm.
The buckle is outstanding. Machined from a piece of bronze it has lots of great detail and presence without being overwhelming and it both physically and visually balances the watch head. It has an excellent curvature and hollow to allow it ride comfortably and sleekly against the underside of the wrist. Very well done here. Buckles don’t make or break a watch for me, but I sure do love to see when it is done well.
If I was going to own the Abyss 2 long term I would look into maybe a 22mm non tapering solid silicone strap. I know most people loath their lint attracting nature, however I find them incredibly comfortable on larger heavier watches. The slight give and flexibility make wearing large watches a treat. I have come to learn not all silicone straps are equal, the Gavox Avidiver strap being an example of what they all should be like in terms of material quality. So I think good quality silicone might be a good pair with the abyss 2. I think most anything will look sharp on it though including the straps that will ship with the watch. There is a machined flat spot between the lugs on the case to allow straps to fit nicely.
Circling back to the beginning when I first laid eyes on the Abyss 2 and laughed at its sheer size, I feel I owe it an apology. It simply wears amazingly well for its size. I have a 6.75-7" flatish wrist that I consider a little below the average size. In light of that I am always looking for slim (11-13mm) divers with a moderate diameter (39-42mm) and constrained lug to lug length (46-49mm). Based on specs alone of 43mm/51.5mm/19mm listed on the Zelos website I don’t think I would have entertained it before. I was pretty amazed when I strapped it on and it fit surprisingly well and didn’t overwhelm my wrist. I think the reasons for that are that the wide bronze bezel, stadium chapter ring and relatively tight inner face help to restrain the watch. From the top I would say the Abyss 2 appears like a 42mm or perhaps even smaller watch. The case design and curved transom lugs allow the watch to hug the wrist making it appear and wear smaller too. I think the case material may also play a part in it wearing well, I feel that if it was a brighter stainless steel case as opposed to the warm and mellow bronze it may stand out visually more and be more noticeably large. The case back is nicely shaped and not too bulbous either allowing it to ride close to the wrist to not further increase the height which really is what makes this watch so big at over 20mm.
To be honest in wear I didn’t really notice the height of the watch. I am really surprised at that as when i wear my magrette at 16mm tall I really feel it, so I thought the abyss 2 would be dramatically bigger and taller feeling. However, shirt cuffs were definitely out. I tried to no avail, so at work it was polos and sweaters. Being winter in the northern hemisphere there were lots of layers and it did ok with sweaters and coats, just don’t expect it to get under any standard dress shirt cuffs.
It is a heavy watch, however I never really notice the weight of any of my watches while wearing them, whether it’s a small titanium dress watch or the Abyss 2. I measured it at 190 grams with the rubber strap. It felt well balanced on the rubber strap and without the strap tight it seemed to stay on top of my wrist.
I wore the watch for over a week straight in all situations and it surprised me how well it wore and that it wasn’t a distraction. I will admit that it did bump a couple door frames the first day but after that I adjusted subconsciously and haven't bumped it since. Pretty remarkable how finely tuned our bodies are that adding a couple mm's to our wrist makes a difference in our daily spacial awareness.
It is clearly a sport/tool watch with its size, design and style but there are enough polished elements that could allow it to pass on a big enough forearm in a dress casual environment with the right strap and self confidence level. But really this bad boy is right at home on the deck of a ship or in a manual working, sport or casual context. Probably looks great with forearm anchor tattoos.
It is clearly a big watch but one that has been well designed so that it could suit a variety of wrist sizes if you are one for deep divers.
Below are some comparison shots with some watches that people may be familiar with to get a sense of the size.
Magrette Regatarre - 44mm
Steinhart Ocean Titanium 500 - 42mm case, 43mm bezel
Its cousin the Ventus Mori – 41mm
And for fun my smallest watch a Tissot PR50 – 36mm
I expected to appreciate and respect the Zelos Abyss 2 Turbine but I didn’t think I would personally like it. I have followed the deep divers that have been released from various brands but never had enough interest in any to tempt me due to their size. The Abyss 2 changed that. I put that down mostly to the comfortable and wearable case design for the sub-average wristed person like myself. I think that it is a big achievement by Zelos to design a case that has 3000m WR but is also able to be worn in daily life but someone who isnt a cast member in an action hero movie. If Zelos took this watch and slimmed it down to 300m and 13mm thick it would be outstanding for my tastes. I love the sea and everything that pertains to it. It is partly why I have an affinity for dive watches in general. The Abyss 2 is full of nautical character such as the bronze case and turbine propeller without feeling cheesy or overdone. I am also pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy the engineering and capabilities of a 3000m deep diver even if I never come close to using them. As I mentioned above, the fact that its size has a purpose other than fashion makes it much more palatable and appealing to me. The Abyss 2 is a fun watch and made me smile when i wore it, i think that is part of my initial laugh. i wish i had reviewed it in the summer when it would have been out in the sun instead of hiding under winter cuffs. I think the overall build quality and specifications are very good and I really like the aesthetics of the design. I feel like the Abyss 2 took me on an adventure into the realm of the deep divers, and I liked what I saw. It is a well made robust watch that certainly will be able to withstand anything that it encounters whether above or below the surface.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review. It's time to return to the surface and please let me know if I can answer anything further.
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